The War in Afghanistan started in October of 2001 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. It has become the longest war waged in U.S. history.
September 11 Attacks
On September 11, 2001 an Islamic terrorist group called al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger airliners and used them to attack the United States. They flew two of the planes into the Twin Towers in New York City causing the buildings to collapse. The third plane struck the Pentagon and the fourth crashed in Pennsylvania before it could reach its target.
The Taliban and al-Qaeda
The United States knew that the al-Qaeda training facilities were in Afghanistan. It was also likely that the al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, was hiding in Afghanistan. At the time, Afghanistan was controlled by an Islamic political group called the Taliban. The Taliban were allied with al-Qaeda and would not turn Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders over to the United States.
The U.S. Invades Afghanistan
In retaliation, the United States, together with its allies including the United Kingdom, went to war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. On October 7, 2001 the U.S. launched Operation Enduring Freedom to battle terrorist groups in Afghanistan and throughout the world. Soon, military bases were established near most of the major cities in the country. However, few of the Taliban or al-Qaeda were killed or captured. Most of them fled into the mountains and rural areas of Afghanistan.
The Northern Alliance
The Northern Alliance was a group of fighters in Afghanistan who were against the Taliban. They allied with U.S. forces to help defeat the Taliban.
A Continuing War
For the next several years, the U.S and its allies worked on defeating the Taliban and rebuilding the country. They hoped to hand over control to the newly formed Afghan government, but defeating the Taliban proved to be very difficult. By 2011, the U.S. and NATO began to hand control back to the Afghanistan military and police, but the war wasn't over.
Osama bin Laden Killed
On May 2, 2011, United States special forces found and killed Osama bin Laden. He was hiding in Pakistan (which borders Afghanistan) at the time.
The War Ends
The United States and NATO officially ended their operations in Afghanistan in 2014. The thirteen year war had been the longest in United States history. However, in many ways the war was not over. The Taliban were still a strong presence in the country and U.S. troops were still helping the Afghanistan government battle the Taliban as of 2015.
Interesting Facts About the War in Afghanistan
Current estimates say that over 100,000 Afghan civilians have died as a result of the war.
The Taliban is mostly funded by growing opium to make the drug heroin. The majority of the world's opium is currently produced in Afghanistan.
As of October 1, 2015, 2,326 U.S. soldiers and 1,173 U.S. contractors have died in Afghanistan. More than two-thirds of those deaths have occurred since 2009.
The president of the new Afghanistan government throughout much of the war was Hamid Karzai.